Plasencia named new track coach

Longtime Gophers men’s cross country coach Steve Plasencia was announced as Minnesota’s next men’s track and field coach Monday by Athletic Director Joel Maturi.

Brian Deutsch

Longtime Gophers men’s cross country coach Steve Plasencia was announced as Minnesota’s next men’s track and field coach on Monday.

Plasencia will replace Phil Lundin , who left for the same position at St. Thomas in May after 13 years at the helm.

“I feel tremendously honored to be given the opportunity to be the next head men’s track and field coach at the University of Minnesota,” Plasencia said in a statement. “Our focus will be to help student-athletes achieve excellence in both their academic and athletic aspirations.”

The men’s track and field team found substantial success in Lundin’s time with the program, winning four Big Ten titles between the indoor and outdoor seasons and never finishing below fifth in the conference.

Plasencia has been equally, if not more, successful with the cross country program, where his squads have participated in the NCAA Championships in 10 of his 12 seasons as coach.

Before Plasencia took over the program, Minnesota had only made eight appearances in the national championship.

“I’m excited we have one of our own in Steve Plasencia to continue the success of our men’s track & field program,” Athletics Director Joel Maturi said in a statement. “Our history is rich with great coaches in this sport with names like Jim Kelly, Roy Griak and Phil Lundin. Coach Plasencia is a great addition to this list.”

Plasencia served as an assistant coach under Lundin, working with the distance runners, including Hassan Mead , who broke Plasencia’s 5,000-meter record en route to an appearance at the U.S. Olympic Trials this year.

In addition to his tenure as head cross country coach, Plasencia was a five-time All-American in cross country and track and served as the Gophers captain in 1977.

“He’s a Minnesota guy,” Gophers women’s track and field coach Matt Bingle said. “He’s from here and his family has deep roots in Minnesota.”

“(Plasencia) was successful as a student-athlete and as the head coach of our men’s cross country program,” Maturi added in his statement. “We look forward to the Minnesota men’s track program continuing its fine tradition of success.”